Sunday, 17 August 2008

Thurs 14 Aug: Surry Hills

Our apartment in Surry Hills is a split-level, one bedroom apartment. It’s a converted terrace house and sits at the back of the house. As you enter, there’s a living room area, with a big TV and a nice comfy couch, and with an open plan kitchen off to the back. Patio doors lead out from the kitchen to a small patio/drying area and a shed which is home to the washing machine. The bathroom is also off the living room, with a lovely big shower.

Up a very narrow and winding iron staircase, is our bedroom. It also has a door onto a balcony outdoors, with a table and chairs for al fresco chatting etc. Unfortunately it’s dark here by 6pm and a little on the cold side, so I doubt we’ll be able to take advantage of this feature!

The main drawback of the place is the kitchen – we don’t have a normal oven/hob so we have to cook using a combination of microwave (which has a convector feature), electric frying pan and electric hotplate. With limited chopping and preparation space and only two sockets for four appliances (including kettle and toaster), it’s a bit tricky!

We’re based right on the edge of Surry Hills, which as I’ve mentioned before, is allegedly ‘edgy’, but feels perfectly pleasant to us. It takes about 10-15 mins to walk straight to the heart of the shopping and business district, 30 mins to Darling Harbour (regenerated waterfront area) and maybe 45 mins to the Opera House and main tourist area. You can be at the beach in about 15 mins on a bus.

As Sydney grew in the 19th century, Surry Hills became a major working class settlement and was notorious for being overcrowded and pretty squalid. Regeneration followed and by the 1990s it had started to become a magnet for young professionals looking for affordable city living (I could be an estate agent, no?!). These days it’s a lively mix of restaurants from all over the world (lots of Vietnamese, Thai, Greek, “Fusion”), relaxed bars, funky boutique clothes shops and a healthy smattering of community projects. It’s quite ‘eclectic’ and parts of it are still a bit run-down, while other parts are very bohemian. For example, one minute you’re walking past a major drop-in centre for young homeless people, then you’re at the oh-so-French Fivi Fouveaux café, then you’re outside an interior design shop selling quirkily angled lamps and sofas with strange coverings. It’s a great area, especially as it’s so central but I wonder if it’s a bit too close to what I’m used to – I feel the need to live near the beach!

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